Sunday 10 April 2011

Join the Party Pt 2

This is part two of a series of posts themed around political propaganda. In many ways its an update to an earlier post at Matsuli where Matt detailed the origins and recordings made by the ANC's Amandla Cultural Group. Its worth repeating what was quoted in that post to give context to the recording which is being shared today.

"From the mid-1970s exiled political groups, particularly the African National Congress (ANC), came increasingly to recognize the value of culture in promoting the struggle abroad. 1974 saw the establishment of the Mayibuye Cultural Ensemble, a London-based grouping that was to achieve considerable success in Europe. Mayibuye was an agitprop group whose performances consisted of an awareness-raising narrative about apartheid interwoven with poetry readings and rousing renditions of freedom songs. In the late 1970s, as increasing pressure forced many of Mayibuye’s performers into more direct political work, another group was in the budding stages of development closer to home. The Amandla Cultural Ensemble originated amongst ANC exiles based largely in military training camps in southern Africa, and became a popular ambassador for the movement across Africa, Europe, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere. It offered large-scale, increasingly professionalized performances incorporating jazz, theatre, and dance. Its performances were intended not only to raise international awareness about apartheid, but also – perhaps more importantly – to present an alternative vision of a future, more inclusive South African culture." (Gilbert, Shirli. Singing against apartheid: ANC cultural groups and the international anti-apartheid struggle, Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, 2006-10-05)

The Amandla Cultural Ensemble first performed at Festac in Nigeria in 1977 and the following year at the Cuban Youth Festival. Their first recording was made at Radio Luanda and Radio Zambia studios during 1980 and released internationally by the Swedish Labour Movement Record Company in 1980. The first international tour took place in 1981 in Sweden. The musical director of Amandla was Jonas Gwangwa, one of the stalwarts of South African jazz.

Full liner notes and more details have been published by Siemon over at Flat International



  1. Thanks for the great post Dabulamanzi!
    There was a timely article relating to your post in todays M&G about Malema's "Kill the Boer" song trial. Apparently a music historian was brought in for the defense. Interesting!
    The link is here.

  2. So glad to have found your blog.Today's post has a wonderfully ironic twist given the more recent events unfolding in South Africa. I grew up in suburban Joburg in the '50s and got my first dose of jive and kwela via Springbok Radio's Bantu Hour. Love the stuff you have posted. I've never gotten around to digitizing my pretty extensive African LP/45 collection because of the time and effort involved. Your blog's an obvious labor of love. Many thanks.

  3. My father had this record. Probably still does. Amazing, and so strange, to see it.

  4. Where can I get the recording of "Spear of the nation" by Mayibuye

  5. doctor_spock@hotmail.comSaturday, March 16, 2013

    for days now i have been grooving to the jives and kwelas of your unbelievable site. on the cover of the maibuya record i noticed the varagram logo with the victory crowing rooster of the vara, the social-democratic part of the dutch broadcasting system. amandla!


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